Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers secondary depleted by injuries, absence on Thursday

Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart, left, leaps over pads while carrying two footballs during the team’s OTA practice on Thursday in Charlotte.
Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart, left, leaps over pads while carrying two footballs during the team’s OTA practice on Thursday in Charlotte. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

It was a rough day for the Carolina Panthers’ cornerbacks.

The group had three players out for Thursday’s third OTA session, then saw another one leave early to be treated with intravenous fluids.

Veteran cornerback Charles Tillman, acquired during the offseason, was in Chicago dealing with a family issue that Panthers coach Ron Rivera characterized as “nothing serious.”

Bené Benwikere, who finished last season as a starter, sat out with tightness in his hamstring, and undrafted rookie Garry Peters also was sidelined with a hamstring injury.

That left returning starter Josh Norman and Melvin White as the first-team corners, with Colin Jones working at nickel. Teddy Williams, a special teams pickup, and Lou Young also got a lot of reps at corner.

Young, who was on the Panthers’ practice squad at the end of last season, was taken to the training room early on a hot day.

“Today was a tough day on the corners,” Rivera said. “Lou Young had to go get an IV. It was rough because those guys are getting double duty.”

CAM ALL ACTION, NO TALK: Quarterback Cam Newton looked good running and throwing Thursday, but he wasn’t able to stick around to describe his performance to reporters.

Newton, who missed OTAs last year after offseason ankle surgery, had to hustle off the practice field to travel to Atlanta for his annual 7-on-7 youth football tournament.

Newton displayed a lot of energy during the two-hour practice, running down the field several times to congratulate teammates after big plays. He’s expected to be back at OTAs next week and is scheduled to meet with the media Wednesday.

NO RECEIVING LINE: Rivera said the Panthers were being careful in holding out second-year receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who pulled his hamstring during a recent workout. Benjamin spent most of Thursday’s session stretching and talking with the trainers.

“He tweaked it a couple of weeks ago. He was coming out of a break and I think he slipped on the wet turf and strained it,” Rivera said. “We’re being a little cautious, but the unintended consequence that’s been a plus is getting Devin (Funchess) a lot of snaps.”

Funchess, a second-round draft pick, attended the first two practices this week, but missed Thursday to attend the NFL’s annual rookie symposium in California.

Two other rookies were absent because their schools are on the quarter system: first-round pick Shaq Thompson, a linebacker from Washington, and fullback Lee Ward, an undrafted free agent from Stanford.

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